My latest read, Num8ers (or Numbers) by Rachel Ward, was an intriguing book. The concept is an interesting one–Jem can see a person’s date of death when she looks into his/her eyes. When I discovered that this was the book’s premise, of course I had to read it. Things started off a bit slow, and there was quite a bit of English slang to wade through–the story is set in England–but the payoff was well worth the time spent with this book. I cried like a baby at the end. I know I’ve said that about books before, but it truly does take a powerful set of circumstances to illicit that kind of emotional response, and Num8ers definitely delivered.
Jem has not had an easy life. She witnessed her mother’s death at an early age, and she’s been shuffled through the foster care system ever since. She hates school, has no friends, and doesn’t see a lot of hope for her future. On top of all of this, when she looks into people’s eyes, she sees the date they’re going to die. She’s had this “gift” forever, but she didn’t know what it meant until the day her mother died, and the number she always saw when she looked at her mother was written on the death certificate.
Jem does her best to avoid people, especially looking them in the eyes. She doesn’t want to be burdened with the knowledge that this person has just a few weeks to live or that person will die well into his nineties. It’s a lot for a fifteen-year-old to handle. Well, there’s one person who won’t let her avoid him–Spider. He’s got just as many problems as Jem, and he senses a kind of kindred spirit in her. Both of them are outsiders, and it seems that they may have a shot at just a little happiness together. But there’s one big problem holding Jem back from reaching out to Spider. Each time she looks at him, she’s hit with the knowledge that his time is limited.
Despite everything, Jem and Spider form an unlikely friendship. After a series of events finds our duo suspended from school, the two take a day trip to London. It is here that Jem notices something strange. When she looks at the people gathered around a popular London attraction, she notices that all of them have the same death date…and it’s today. Jem can’t tell Spider why they have to leave in a hurry, but she lets him know that they have to get out of the area immediately. Shortly after they make a run for it, chaos reigns when the tourist attraction is the target of a bomb. Suddenly, Jem and Spider are on the run for a different reason. They were seen running from the scene shortly before the bomb blew. They’re suspects!
What can Jem and Spider do? Where can they run? They have nothing, and they must depend only on each other for their very lives. Can they clear their names before their numbers are finally up? Read Rachel Ward’s Num8ers to find out!
Num8ers is an awesome book! It does have some bad language and adult scenes, but those things are true to the setting, characters, and tone of the book. I can’t wait to read the second book in the series, and I just found out that a third book is on the way! For more information about Rachel Ward and the Num8ers series, visit http://www.rachelwardbooks.com/.